The Laws of Life 5

A law of Murphy. One of many.

Murphy’s Law

“If anything can go wrong, it will.” This is the law named after aerospace engineer Edward Aloysius Murphy, Jr. (1918-1990). It is the law which encapsulates the seemingly chaotic nature of inanimate objects in the popular imagination. That wasn’t how Murphy intended to have his law interpreted. As an aerospace designer specializing in safety-critical systems, he invoked it as a philosophy of defensive design against worst-case scenarios for making durable, robust systems.

finagle’s law

Despite this, Murphy’s law has spawned many satirical and jocular interpretations over the decades. There was Finagle’s Law, for example. While there was no one named Finagle behind the law’s name, science fiction editor John W. Campbell, Jr. (1910-1971) used the law repeatedly in his commentaries. The law is a slight extension of Murphy’s law: “If anything can go wrong, it will — at the worst possible moment.” This is also often referred to as Sod’s corollary to Murphy’s Law. Not sure who “Sod” is.

resistentialism

There is Resistentialism, a jocular theory which states that inanimate objects have a “spiteful character”, and they exhibit a high degree of malice towards humans. This is probably well-known to anyone who has spilled coffee on themselves.

hanlon’s (heinlein’s ?) razor

As an antidote to the nutty Resistentialistic theories involving objects with wills of their own, there is Hanlon’s Razor, which reminds us to “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” “Hanlon” is probably a corruption of “Heinlein”. Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who wrote in a novel Logic of Empire in 1941: “You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity”. It turns out that it can be attributed to someone named Hanlon, however. A fellow named Robert J. Hanlon of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

I invoke something close to Hanlon’s Razor whenever I can’t find something I am looking for. Rather than thinking “someone stole it” or “someone moved it”, or “it grew legs and walked away”, I find it entirely adequate to think that I have misplaced it and it will turn up, and it usually does.

Variations on Murphy’s law

  • When you attempt to fix a minor malfunction you will cause a major malfunction.
  • It’s on the other side. This can be either Preudhomme’s Law of Window Cleaning, or the Fant Law of Searching for Keys in Your Pocket.
  • Lost articles will only show up once you replace it. This is seen by some as a confirmation of objects that grow legs and walk away, since once they “know” I replaced it, they walk right back into view.
  • The cost of the repair to a broken item is in direct proportion to its original cost. And the cheap, crappy stuff you have lasts forever.
  • Enough research will tend to support your theory. I am sure you will find a source somewhere that says inanimate objects have wills and intentions, and can grow legs. Somewhere.
  • Cargill’s 90-90 rule of software programming:The first 90% of the software project takes 90% of the time. The last 10% takes the other 90%. Where did the other 90% come from? Yeah, that’s kind of the point. And just in case you were wondering, they weren’t referring to 90% of the remaining 10%. This one was attributed to Tom Cargill of Bell labs, as to the tendency of projects to appear to meet deadlines, until they don’t.
  • Logic allows us to arrive at the wrong conclusion without being ashamed.
  • When all else fails, read the instructions.

The Laws of Life 4

Kinds of knowing

There is knowing that you know;
Knowing that you don’t know;
Not knowing that you know;
and not knowing that you don’t know. This last one is the most dangerous.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

This is the idea where some people fancy themselves as experts in some field when in fact they are incompetent. They in fact don’t have the competence to know they are incompetent. We are all victims to this effect, to some extent. Many studies have confirmed, for example, that most of us believe we have above-average intelligence, which is statistically impossible. But at the extreme is anosognosia. Anosognosia is associated more with brain defects that seems more like dementia. The sufferer is rendered unaware of their dementia or that their cognitive skills are in decline.

The Big Fish, Little Pond Effect (BFLPE)

Being highly competent among a small group of less competent individuals is better for one’s self-esteem than the same person being among a larger group of more highly competetent people.  BFLPE is related to the Dunning-Kruger Effect in that manner, except that it is a factor affecting one’s actual success in their chosen field, since it links directly to self-esteem.

Sutor, ne ultra crepidam

Latin: “Shoemaker, not beyond the shoe.” Or, don’t make pronouncements beyond your expertise. This kind of sums up the last two ideas.

The Laws of Life 3

The Dilbert Principle

Scott Adams

“The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.” This was coined by Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strips. I have seen this manifested in my life of people promoted to managerial positions. In 1996, Scott Adams, also an MBA graduate from Berkeley, wrote a book named The Dilbert Priniciple (Amazon link) which, while satirical in intent, is often recommended or required reading at many business schools, and has sold more than a million copies and was a New York Times bestseller for the better part of a year. This is very closely related to …

The Peter Principle

Laurence J. Peter

This is the idea that all employees will rise to the level of their own incompetence. It is apt, since what do organizations do with their best employees? They promote them to management. But it becomes a very different job, not a job which uses the skills that made them so great at the previous job. While the Peter Principle allows that management were at least competent at their previous job; the Dilbert Principle allows for the possibility that management is formed out of a need for damage control. The Peter Principle (direct PDF link), a book co-written by Laurence J. Peter (1919-1990) and Raymond Hull, is the 1969 book which first came up with this.

The Laws of Life 2

Brooks’s Law

Fred Brooks came up with this rule in his 1975 book “The Mythical Man-Month”

Adding more manpower to a late software project makes it later. This is because 1) it takes time for new people in a project to become productive – they need time to learn about what has already been done and to become integrated with other team members; 2) the number of required communication channels increases factorially with the number of people added; 3) there is only so much division of labour that can be done before co-workers start getting in each other’s way.

Doctorow’s Law

Cory Doctorow

“Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn’t give you the key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.” Cory Doctorow was saying this around 2003 in the context of DRM locks placed on some digital media purchased in a store or online, such as movies or audio recordings. Doctorow was an advocate of file sharing. DRM = “Digital Rights Management”.

The laws of life 1

This will be a short series exploring the laws which seem to govern our lives. There will be one or more laws, followed by some kind of discussion.

These are taken from a canonical list of eponymous laws mentioned on Wikipedia.

Betteridge’s law of headlines

“any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no'”. To Continue Ian Betteridge’s quote: “The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.”

Examples are: “Is Trump going to improve Obamacare?” or “Should you pay $20,000 for that perfect Espresso shot?” or “Will robots replace workers by 2030?”or “Should we treat incels as terrorists?”

Examples exclude any title that is a “Wh” question (as in Who, What, Where, When, Why), or a “How” question, where the article might actually have something worthwhile to offer. You have to instead look for that “clickbait” intent.

This also relates to clickbait videos on YouTube. I rarely watch any video whose title ends in a question mark, because I can sense what’s coming. Mostly bafflegab, with little actual information or evidence. One that I like is a recent video on my science feed that asks the question: “Has quantum mechanics proved that reality does not exist?” By applying Betteridge’s Law, you can save yourself 11 minutes you will never get back. Same for one of my Tolkien vloggers, who asks the questions “Did Gandalf really die? And does it matter?” No to both questions. It’s genius.

Getting your ass handed to you

I have become a fan of author Jon Ronson, a Welsh writer of nonfiction, or more like a journalist who writes books, I suppose. His chosen topics center mostly around the messier, disordered parts of human nature. He deals with the aspects of our experience where we often fear to tread: from online shaming and bullying, to the mentality of psychopaths, to our very own ability to categorize people as our power over them.

The latest I have heard from him was a series of audio podcasts which I had downloaded from Audible called The Last Days of August, a biography of events surrounding the suicide of porn actress August Ames in 2017. Ames was known as an A-List porn star, married to producer Kevin Moore, a man more than 20 years her senior. It is notable that there were 5 suicides of porn actors in the month after Ames’s suicide.

Generally the podcast Last Days spread out over 7 half-hour episodes what could have easily been condensed to half that, at least in my opinion. It isn’t that there was “fluff” in the piece necessarily, it is just that there was too much detail, and by episode 4, even Ronson is questioning whether his digging around the porn industry was too obsessive.

Well, if Ronson was looking for the messier side of humanity to root around in for stories, he certainly found it. We see the messiest possible intersection between messed-up porn actors and actresses, messed-up producers and directors, the vindictiveness of the business generally, manipulation, fear of STDs, fear of each other, and fear-mongering both real and imagined, in all possible directions. What truth could possibly be dredged up from such an unholy mess of people and situations?

But around the 17:20 minute mark of Episode 4, he interviews a porn actress named Lisa Ann, another actress considered to be an “A-Lister”. Her real name appears to be Lisa Ann Corpora, a dark-haired actress known for her porn parody of Alaska politician Sarah Palin. Lisa Ann was one of the rare actresses who lasted in the industry well beyond the 3-4 years that most women last. She owned her own porn production company. Lisa Ann was in her mid-40s at the time of the interview and had just come out of her second retirement (or was it her third?) to sign up with the production company Evil Angel, the same company August and husband Kevin worked for before August’s suicide.

But what comes out of the interview with Lisa Ann was a lightning bolt of clarity in all of the messiness and confusion of the story.

“99.9% of what you are going to hear from interviews is fucking bullshit. Everybody fucking lies. They are the most uneducated, shady fucking criminal people I’ve ever engaged with,” Lisa Ann says. You can say that she is trying to protect her employer, Evil Angel, and in turn her job with these words, but discrediting porn actors in this way amounts to remarks that are uncontroversial, and it is an easy sell. Elsewhere in the series, the porn industry was self-described by those in it as adult actors who have never resolved their childhood issues, being managed by other adults who suffer from the same lack of resolve of childhood issues. Essentially describing the industry as grown-up children managing other grown-up children.

After a few remarks giving her angle on all of those things causing Ronson suspicions about the possibility of Kevin controlling August in several ways, and the pressure of the AVN Tradeshow on August, she continues with “It’s a good thing to have a protective man like Kevin involved because there are many things that are involved in the business that should not be involved but are involved. Again, none of this is going to bring her back to life. None of this is going to make Kevin’s life easier, and none of us are perfect. We have lost a valuable person in the industry, we have an example poorly set for losing 5 girls in a month; they’re all gone now, and we can’t bring any of them back.

“Prodding at the animals in the cage and trying to find out what you can learn from a bunch of people who can’t even know the fucking truth — these are people who don’t even know their own truth — you’re talking about people who do drugs on the regular — People who do drugs and the gray matter in their minds and the things that it affects and the clarity that they don’t have are not respectable people to give their opinion on the death of another human being that they probably weren’t good to, weren’t close with, didn’t care about, and now they’re willing to talk about her.

“Let me put it to you this way: 75% of the industry is on the edge enough to commit suicide at any time. That’s the way you have to look at it. I’ve interacted sexually with more people that are no longer here than probably anybody in this world. It’s not that much of a story with one girl.”

It was chilling and sobering. The death of August and the cyberbullying story angle that Ronson was pursuing now seemed like small potatoes compared with the much larger and starker picture Lisa Ann was painting. It wasn’t just that a bunch of B and C-list porn actors were piling onto August in a short-lived cyberbullying frenzy; the real story is that the porn industry is dark, evil, sick, remorseless, and unempathetic at worst — confused and rudderless at best; and that the Twitter storm is just a small part of this story. Not only is it not much of a story with one girl; but it is likely not much of a story about August either. Ronson will never get the truth from interviewing people in the industry, because when people are willing to speak, it is mostly out of self-interest or self-promotion. Even allegations of August’s mental illness appeared in Ronson’s story to be just that, allegations based on circumstantial evidence and hearsay. This is not to deny that it is entirely possible that August along with a good chunk of the porn industry is mentally unstable; it is just that he didn’t seem to establish this for August all that well.

But Lisa Ann, not wanting to discuss that dark side more than she absolutely wants to, makes an effort to be more positive by breaking with the discussion by saying in the next breath:

“The story is the forward thinking future of not gossiping, not bringing up darkness, trying to look towards the light, and trying to instil a positive mindset, and trying to create groups. You can’t say that this piece of yours is working toward the future; you’re not going to save anybody. They’re already dead. You’re only going to make more people get closer to the edge, and we’ll have more deaths after this comes out. Because everyone is going to feel so guilty for the lies that they told.

“The end result for you is you want to blame Kevin for August’s suicide, right?”

“No”, Ronson insists. While it was Kevin’s idea to get Ronson to pursue the story, Ronson had to pursue the “Kevin is controlling” angle for his own journalistic integrity.

“Your using our industry and the weakness of our industry and the fear involved to create a story for yourself. I’ve seen this too many times before, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re using the dummies.”

The accusation of Ronson “using the dummies” was an unfair jab. Lisa Ann had otherwise said a lot that any viewer ought to digest, and did it in a way that would make a pretty sound conclusion for anyone seeking a story on the porn industry. And there were 3 more episodes to go after this. There wasn’t much more to say. Suddenly August’s story didn’t seem that interesting anymore. 3 more episodes of Ronson prodding and probing around the many angles to the the death of August, not adding much that was memorable. He definitely needs an editor.

But I can say that overall, Lisa Ann definitely handed his ass to him. It should have been a wake-up call to not focus so narrowly on one person’s psychological state, shaming, cyberbullying, and controlling spouses. There was an infinitely bigger story and he was missing it.

There was a lack of authoritativeness throughout this series that reduced the entire series into mostly he-said, she-said dialogues. There was no foundation, and even Lisa Ann’s dialog, while having the feeling of truth, still boiled down to “Lisa Ann’s opinion”, which I found deflating. It is possible that Ronson, a person who has given talks at Oxford University, Ted talks, and has been a guest on numerous podcasts and TV talk shows, is out of his depth here, and it should be taken as a life lesson, learn from it, and move on. And he has seemed to since. Apart from his public appearances on radio and TV, he has continued to make podcasts for the BBC. He is married with one son.

Remarkable Indices

A summary of some notable trends from the Harper’s Index over the past two months.

Percentage of US adults who describe their health as “excellent”: 25

Percentage change since 2019 in the number of Americans who describe their mental health as “excellent”: –21

Percentage increase since 2019 in ER visits for suicide attempts by adolescent boys: 4

By adolescent girls: 51

Portion of therapists who say their clientele has increased since the start of the pandemic: 9/10

Who have been forced to decrease their hours because of personal issues: 1/5

Minimum portion of Americans aged 18 to 25 who are extremely lonely nearly all of the time: 3/5

Amount spent, per year, to incarcerate someone in a New York City jail: $556,539

Amount spent last November on a private island in the metaverse: $398,685

Factor by which PR specialists outnumber journalists in the United States: 6

Percentage of people alive today who have never used the internet : 37

Minimum number of U.S. immigration history requests held up because of pandemic rules on records storage: 350,000

Portion of Americans who have favorable views of both capitalism and socialism: 1/5

Who have unfavorable views of both capitalism and socialism: 1/5

Percentage of Americans who approve of labor unions: 68

Percentage change since 2019 in U.S. labor union membership: –4

Estimated percentage decrease in U.S. condom sales since the start of the pandemic: 8

Portion of Americans earning less than $50,000 who cite wedding costs as a reason for not marrying: 3/10

Number of the one hundred most-watched TV broadcasts last year that were NFL games: 92

Factor by which Americans spent more time listening to the radio last year than to podcasts: 6

Amount of time, in years, viewers spent watching livestreams of Grand Theft Auto V on Twitch last year: 214,309

Minimum number of total views for TikTok videos tagged with #MentalHealth: 25,100,000,000

Portion of U.S. adults who have struggled with basic decisions like what to eat or wear since the start of the pandemic: 1/3

Of U.S. millenials: 1/2

Portion of U.S. adults who say their closets contain many things they will never wear again: 3/4

Percentage decrease in spending on dental care since the start of the pandemic: 9.5

Portion of U.S. pet owners who say they take their pet’s health more seriously than their own: 7/10

Who have sought acupuncture for their pet: 4/10

Who have purchased CBD products for their pet: 3/10

Minimum number of dogs in the United States on anti-anxiety medication: 10,350,000

Of cats: 1,800,000

Minimum number of hamsters executed by the Hong Kong government because of COVID-19 exposure: 2,229

A Cake that’s Pi

To celebrate Pi day (March the 14, or 3-14), some ‘net denizens have gotten to celebrating with a cake. A pi cake. A cake shaped like pi. A pi made of cake.

A Pi made of Cake

Others took the more normative route and created a Pi this year made of actual pie. So boring!

And there are more than enough “Pi” pies.

While we are on the topic, I know of no one who celebrates the other “Pi” day, the one on the 22nd of July, or 22/7.

The 2021 Release of the last of the JFK documents

There has been a slow release of previously top-secret documents relating to the JFK assassination. The official telling of the story of the assassination, ranging from the “Magic Bullet” theory to the silencing or killing of anyone who could tell the truth, left a void for many different stories. Was there a conspiracy to kill the president, or wasn’t there? The unofficial line, outlined by Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, backed up by a substantial part of what was known by th early 1990s, appeared to make more sense, but because it was a theory that involves a conspiracy, it was dismissed by Magic Bullet supporters as a “conspiracy theory”.

The assassination happened the year I was born, and after the Warren Report, the documents, it was said, would not be released for another half century or more.

Since 2017, there has been a trove of documents released to The National Archives in Washington, with digitized versions placed on the internet. The most recent release has been in December of 2021. The planned release was delayed a few months due to covid. The National Archives states that they have released over 5 million pages of documents related to the assassination.

Allergic to Paris Hilton

Paris holding up one of her favourite cup towels. Why does she wear fingerless gloves in all of her cooking videos?

The video series “Cooking With Paris”, formerly on YouTube, had since graduated to Netflix, lasting for only six episodes in 2021, purported to be about cooking with other celebs, but only ends up being about a rich chick f*cking around in the kitchen. The only thing that might keep the viewer on edge is whether she is holding her utensils correctly, or whether she will hurt herself.

Watched “Sliving Lasagna” (5 million + views). “Sliving” is a word she invented to combine “slaying” with “living your best life”. Her video contains no effort on her part or anyone else’s, no useful information about cooking lasagna except as a masterclass in self-inflicted food poisoning, and will not make anyone a better cook. The only thing of value is the spectacle of watching Paris Hilton making a spectacle of herself. But 5 million views and 30,000 comments ensure enough viewer engagement to indicate quite strongly that Paris will get the last laugh, all the way to the bank.

Some remarkable stuff casually observed on the video:

    1. Holding the dog on her entrance, but not washing her hands before cooking after putting down the dog.
    2. Camera pans past an apron on the counter which she never wears, then focuses on a bust of Marilyn Monroe which just happened to be in the middle of the counter.
    3. After some time cooking, washes her hands, with her fingerless gloves still on. She never takes her gloves off for any reason. She has been observed putting latex gloves over them from time to time.
    4. Barilla lasagna – okay, I suppose, but not really the fancy stuff. Go-to college student fare. She uses the entire 900g box, and places them in a pot of cold water.
    5. Uses about 4 pounds of beef, and easily 6 pounds of ricotta cheese. Not sure how if she is preparing for a banquet and has sufficient bakeware to contain it all.
    6. Paris says at one point: “I wish the cheese would be shredded. But whatever. Life can be worse.” It illustrates the passion she brings to the kitchen.

 

The most happenin’ place to get a Covid shot

Zanzibar
Club Zanzibar. Covid figher by day …

Yes, in downtown Toronto, on 359 Yonge Street between Dundas and Gerrard Streets, is a strip club which has been repurporsed as a place to get your covid shots. Club Zanzibar on Yonge Street is the latest and most visible in a series of strip clubs which have been repurposed as “low-barrier” vaccination sites as they are being shut down to prevent the spread of Covid.

You don’t need an appointement, ID, or proof of address to get a Pfizer or Moderna shot here. It is open from 10AM to 6PM daily, in conjunction with The University Health Network partnering with, predictably, Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project.

Who would be helped by this act of generosity? Well, not just members of the sex trade. Homeless people as well, who also by and large have no ID or fixed address. And not to mention undocumented workers. It’s not just something the United States has. It is also open to the general public as well. Anyone can get a first, second, or booster shot here without the higher barrier to entry that would leave out the most vulnerable in society, who often have no identification papers, and no fixed address.

… and strip club at night.

The provincial government, like reactionary governments everywhere, often lose sight of the fact that the poor also get covid and can spread it to the rich. Getting rid of infectious disease means getting rid of it for everyone. No government in human history has ever gotten rid of prostitution, so you might as well make sure they are protected against disease so they don’t pass it on to their richer clients.

Zanzibar will try its best to accommodate those with mobility issues, but as a warning, their bathrooms are not wheelchair-accessible.

The war against silence

Glenn McDonald

Just thought that was a great title for a weekly music review and discussion column (now archived) by Glenn McDonald from Cambridge, Massachusetts. I used to enjoy his meandering musings about all things musical. He was a writer given to quixotic self-expression, but it passed the time, if you allow yourself to be carried along with it.  It takes him a fair bit of time to get around to his point, but sooner or later, he has one. I’ve read articles from him from many obscure artists, and some not-so-obscure artists such as Laurie Anderson, which makes his articles on Boston, Dolly Parton and Shania Twain rather jarring.  But still worth reading. He had also been a regular contributor to an online music magazine column in The Village Voice called Pazz and Jop, which had annual music lists curated by music critic Robert Christgau. The lists differed from the Billboard music lists in that it leaned more havily toward alternative and avant-garde music. The list couldn’t rely on album sales, but instead relied on what appeared to be a cryptic statistical system. Whatever the system, they appeared to be on to something, since the list was popular with musicians and music critics worldwide.

How to clear 'Recently Played' in your Spotify library ...McDonald’s TWAS column folded early in 2013, and Pazz and Jop had its last publication in 2018. And now we know Glenn McDonald as the brains behind Spotify. The 1,387 categories that Spotify generates are based on computers whose algorithms classify the music into the categories, genres, and sub-genres which clients could pick and choose from. And going by the success of Spotify, it seems to work quite successfully. I also find out that he was the brains behind the website Every Noise At Once, mentioned years ago in this journal. I am beginning to think that iTunes, who had braindead classifications which I discussed in an earlier article, may have been a casualty of this make-it-up-as-you-go-along style of classification rather than a beneficiary. If someone told me at a cocktail party that they like “nu-gaze” or “neo mellow” music, I would just think of them as pretentious and just trying to sound cool and edgy by name -dropping a few of Spotify’s 1300+ musical categories that may have popped into his or her head. I am sure the musicians themselves don’t set out to be the next great musicians in the “electrofox” or “fuzz pop” genre or whatever. These are the names that exist in the imagination of maybe Glenn McDonald and a few of his Spotify colleagues, with the classification itself being the product of a Spotify algorithm. No musician, and no other humans, have had a hand in classifiying their music if it is on Spotify.

As an update, The Village Voice upon which Pazz and Jop was based has been rebooted only a few months ago, sans Pazz and Jop. But gone are nearly all of the writers that made it a national  institution for alternative music, voices and lifestyle. According to their “Emeritus” page of contributors, and apart from Christgau, there were notable cartoonists Matt Groening, Tom Tomorrow, and Robert Crumb, and one of the founders was Norman Mailer. There were also novelists such as David Foster Wallace, Tom Robbins, and numerous other writers, music and cultural critics. Wikipedia lists other contributors, but they don’t check out with the emeritus list. For example, while it is plausible that Allan Ginsburg, Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, James Baldwin, e. e. cummings, and Katherine Anne Porter may have contributed articles in the past, one would have expected these names to be prominent on the emeritus page, but none of their names are there.

A late shipment of records and a minor techie war story

The fine folks at Omnivore finally filled my order for Game Theory records and CDs. In total, I purchased 2CDs, 1 LP vinyl record and an EP vinyl record. I had been waiting for almost a year, and after their losing my shipment, a replacement shipment was issued, and a package arrived at my door earlier this week. I paid nothing extra. Nothing was lost except the time waiting.

Technics SL-10 Turntable
The Technics SL-10 Turntable.

The LP was called Across the Barrier of Sound, a colored vinyl LP which looked unusual when I unpackaged it: a clear pink vinyl LP. I placed it on my turntable, and within a couple of minutes of play, the features of my turntable which made it such a technological wonder in 1979 now became a hinderance.

The turntable is a Technics SL-10, with controls on the lid, and no tonearm. Instead, the magnetic cartridge is attached to the lid, and it moves along a stainless steel track, guided digitally. It is the only direct drive turntable I know of that can be played sideways and even upside-down without a problem (I’ve tried it), much like the portable CD players which just started to come on the market back in the day. Except, the SL-10 wasn’t portable. Like any other turntable of its time, it used RCA jacks and needed a ground wire, plus its own power cord. For compatability with modern equipment, an impedance matcher was also recommended for the RCA connections.

Everything still works 40 years later. There are infra-red sensors and red lights both above and underneath the turntable. They automatically sense whether the record is 12-inch, 10-inch, or 7-inch, depending on whether the record is an LP, EP, or a single and adjust the speed to 33 or 45 rpm accordingly. There are manual overrides to this, but it usually works without me doing much of anything. I often use the manual overrides for skipping tracks. Most other times, after closing the lid, I press “Start” and the turntable figures out the rest.

All well and good, but my two new vinyl records were clear, tinted vinyl. Barrier was clear pink; and the EP Dead Center was clear baby blue. The clear vinyl meant that the lights underneath the turntable which allowed auto-detection of the record size were shining through the vinyl and sending false signals to the central processor. After a couple of minutes of play, the record started skipping during the first track. I found that if I stuck some sheets of paper underneath the record to block out the lights, the play was normal again.

I am willing to put up with this, since the vast majority of vinyl records are black, and not see-through, including the ones I have. So, the turntable will do its job most of the time. At least there is a work-around, even though it has the side effect of static buildup on the paper, but that may have been because the ground wire was a bit loose.

Braindead iTunes Music Classifications

I have about 100 albums by some 66 artists from iTunes, not counting various artist compilations. Many of them are just 1 or 2 tracks off an album, but a good deal of these are complete album downloads.

Bouncy house?
My immediate mental image when I heard of the genre “Bounce House”. I am pretty sure this is wrong 🙂

The “My Genre” classifications are braindead on iTunes. Some failed 20-something computer programmer was probably asked by their boss at Apple to do the classifications, as though any talentless hack could do it. It didn’t occur to the execs that you have to know a fair bit about the music you categorize, and not over-categorize, which, as iTunes demonstrates, only makes the problem worse. And I’ve wondered: what exactly is the “bounce house” genre?

Here are some classifications of recordings that have clearly not been
thought through:

Enya

Enya, apparenlty, is “Pop” music. There is not much separating her Celtic influenced brand of electronica from acts like Vangelis or other progressive acts. It is just that her music sells. In iTunes, “Pop” doesn’t seem so much as a genre as an economic category.

Discography | Complete catalogue | Flora & Fauna - record ...“The Chrysler” is apparently “Rock”. There they are in my collection alongside Hendrix, Supertramp, CSN, Rolling Stones, U2, and so on. All of the latter groups could well be classed under “Classic Rock”, as it is now known, but here they are as well. What is Chumbawumba doing under “Rock”?

Judy Collins

Judy Collins, who is best known as a top-rated singer of other people’s music, is here under “Singer-Songwriter”, with her album of nothing but Leonard Cohen tunes. Clearly, Collins is more singer than songwriter. That is not a slight on Collins – she is amazing and deserves to be heard by a wide audience.

Michael Pagliaro

Michael Pagliaro “Rainshowers” classed as “American Traditional Rock”. Problem is, Pagliaro hails from Montreal in Canada. Why are they splitting “Rock” into these fine classifications anyway? They do have “Rock”.

If you like splitting hairs as much as iTunes does, this is “Alternative”, or “Indie”. They placed this album  under “Rock”.

The “Alternative” genre: Edwyn Collins, The Deceberists, … outside of iTunes, “Alternative” is not really “Alternative”. It is just another form of mainstream Rock which makes the average consumer feel like they are listening to something edgy. Collins doesn’t sound too different from Bowie. Bowie was edgy (take note of the past tense); and there is not much special about The Decemberists, except that they are not as well known as other Top-40 acts back in 2015, but still highly talented. Why are acts like these not as well-known? Ask the record execs. And apparently, acts such as The Chrysler and Chumbawumba are not alternative?

Kidnap’s “Cold Water” album.

“Dance”: A-Trak & Wongo, Kidnap, and Boyz Noize are all electronic. They are hypnotic tunes and would not be considered recognizable by any general audience. More correct genres are House, and Techno. Kidnap have other recordings listed under “House”, such as their single “Cold Water”. The music is danceable in the sense of being at a rave in your early 20s and not knowing what you are dancing to.

Maria Bamford

Maria Bamford is a charmingly strange standup comedian who has different albums classed separately under “Comedy” and “Standup Comedy”. Her comedy is all standup comedy in all of the albums I have of her, but being classed under these two categories is unhelpful.

I found one of the genres that seem to have no problems is “New Age”, but when sorted my albums by Artist, apparently “New Age” is an artist!

The Hobbit: A Fan Edition

Part of the video thumbnail promoting The Cardinal Cut version of The Hobbit.

The Hobbit: The Cardinal Cut, A YouTube video edited by a person named Cardinal West, has boiled down the eight or so hours of The Hobbit down to about half that purely by editing the original down from the NewLine Cinema version, and posted an article about it, and offered a way to download your own MP4 copy for free, on his website. You can get all this info by entering “The Hobbit – The Cardinal Cut” into the YouTube search box.

He requests emphatically that the only people who should be downloading the edited movie are people who already purchased a copy of the trilogy, either digitally or through various video disks. For the record, I have had my blu-ray copy of the extended editions of all three parts for some years, and thus downloaded and viewed the Cardinal version of the movie in full.

Cardinal is The Hobbit without the bullshit. Gone are the distractions that add nothing to the story, such as the love triangle between Tauriel, Legolas, and the dwarf Kili. It didn’t exist in the book, and adds not one iota to the plot. The Battle of the Five Armies (the battle in The Hobbit, not the third part in the movie sequel), which took barely 5 pages in the original book, which has thus been variously nicknamed “Battle of the 5 Pages” or “Battle of the 5 Studios” (Warner, MGM, New Line Cinema, The Weinstein Company (yes, that Weinstein), and the Saul Zaentz Company) took up over 90 minutes in the third part of the trilogy. Natch, most of that was cut out as excessive in the Cardinal cut.

As for Cardinal, what remained was actually a pretty good and entertaining movie, with a story line that was much easier to follow. The parts of the film that needed gravitas were undiluted by distracting side plots that weren’t part of the original book, and it aided the overall quality of the film. I didn’t mind the occasional choppiness of the editing, since it all seemed engineered to draw my attention more to the story.

Chris Hartwell has been a faculty member of the school of Cinema and New Media Arts at Houston Baptist University since 2017.

There are other “fan edits” in existence, each with their own arrangements for downloading. Chris Hartwell did one in 2020, and in the video I saw which discussed his rationale for editing down The Hobbit, he was not clear on how a fan could  obtain a copy of his edited version. Hartwell claims that he was achieving more of a balance between the storyline of the original book and its adaptation to a movie, taking advantage of the power of film to embellish and add other dimensions to what was text. Hartwell appears to be making his money through Patreon crowdfunding. Cardinal is also funded through Patreon.

The 2021 Federal Election: The Fringe Parties that ran

Fringe Parties are obscure, and many have been around for a very long time. Elections Canada has listed 22 of them running in the last election. Here is a list of 12 of them that were on ballots somewhere in Canada yesterday, with short comments.

Rhinoceros Party

Logo - neorhino.caThe “Rhinos” first ran as a joke in the ’60s. One of their promises currently is to make illiteracy Canada’s third official language, suggesting little has changed. It is a great way to spoil your ballot, and still say to people that you voted. Not on this list is a party called the “Absolutely Absurd Party”, a party who wrote into their platform (yes they had one), a motion to replace the Canadian Department of Defense with “a team of crack Rock-Paper-Scissors commandos.” The Absolutely Absurd party de-registered themselves for this election. The Rhinos did not, and ran 28 candidates nationwide yesterday in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Communist Party

Communist Party of Canada logoThe Communist Party has been around for a very long time. Currently, their website appears to give the impression that they have defined themselves in terms of their hatred of crappy right-wing policies. It is not clear as to whether they have any kind of platform, but they ran 28 candidates across all provinces except Newfoundland and PEI. Two candidates were elected as Members of Parliament back in 1943. They were banned for awhile and re-surfaced in the 1950s.

Marxist-Leninist Party

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada logoWhat is the difference between the Communists and the Marxist-Leninists? Who knows? Both parties have been around for several generations, and the question reigns perennial. But their website indicates that they have run more than 25 candidates over several provinces this election. They show their expertise with social criticism and make some good points, but it falls far short of a platform.

Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party of Canada logoWe have registered parties ranging from the far left to the far right. The Libertarians have been around for some decades, and their definition of “libertarian” is to liberate capital and business with laissez-faire economic policies. So, this is considered far right. They ran 24 candidates.

Centrist Party

Centrist Party of CanadaSounds good, nice website, but despite the fact there are registered with Elections Canada, their website triggered virus detection on my PC, and messed up my Firefox browser. Thus, it was not clear as to whether they ran any candidates, or what their platform is. The information provided by Elections Canada suggests that nearly all of their activity appears to be confined to the Greater Toronto Area.

Canada’s Fourth Front

Canada's Fourth Front logoYou must admit, the name of the party sounds pretty dramatic, but as an anticlimax to this drama, the website is down. Would have been nice to write them up here, but alas, no-can-do. They are running a grand total of 7 candidates. Elections Canada has them as based in Toronto.

Veteran’s Coalition Party

Veterans Coalition Party of CanadaThe Nova Scotia and Alberta-based Veteran’s Coalition Party are a party promoting the abstract values of “truth, duty and honor”. However, I have trouble seeing that as a platform. They ran 25 candidates anyway.

Christian Heritage Party

Christian Heritage Party of Canada logoA party headquartered in Ottawa which CBC reports is running 15 candidates and is focused on social conservatism. They promote a Christian world view, which means they will fight a war against anything they see as contradicting it. Examples are defunding the CBC, and abolishing pro-choice.

Marijuana Party

Marijuana Party logoThis is, as the name suggests, a single-issue party, based in Montreal, aimed at greater access to marijuana. The fact that they see this as the single defining issue in the age of covid and global warming may not ring so true after they come down. They are running 4 candidates.

Animal Protection Party

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada logoAnother single-issue party, this time aimed at protecting animals. I have said in another article, writing about a similar-themed party that we indeed live in an age where animal rights seems to be more of an animating issue than human rights these days. But I also stated in that article that Mother Nature does not run a democracy, and that we need animals and plants more than they need us. This Toronto-based party was running 39 candidates in yesterday’s election.

Maverick Party

Maverick PartyNothing spells Western alientation like a Bloc-style political party for Western Canada. The Alberta-based Mavericks are running 25 or so candidates, just in BC, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Parti Patriote

Parti PatrioteA Montreal-based party that pre-dates Canada’s existence. It was started in Lower Canada from  an assembly of Francophones and Irish Anglophones, both of whom distrusted the British. They are currently a right-wing party who stand for Quebec nationalism and sovereignty. The latest instance of this party was re-started by Donald Proulx in 2019. They are running two candidates, according to their French-only website.

Review of Jordan Peterson’s first “12 Rules” book

Jordan Peterson is best known as a conservative-leaning psychologist who teaches at the University of Toronto, and also is a practising counsellor.

Serious - Ideology debate thread | Page 123 | nebulous
Dr. Jordan Peterson (center), son of Pepe, Prophet of Kek.

Dr. Jordan Peterson has often been pictured hanging out with students who are part of the far right, and has seemed to have gained an attachment to Pepe the Frog, and in the origins of the symbolism of the frog mascot. He has helped the far right gain dignity with its association with Pepe, by associating it with frogs in Egyptian mythology, and so on. Peterson is a big fan of Carl Jung, and so he shares Jung’s fascination for archetypes and how they theoretically play a role in our psyches. However, I am not sure that Jung had in mind a badly-drawn cartoon frog as an example.

Peterson’s hobknobbing with the far right makes him an easy target for others to discredit. This is unfortunate, since the book itself is compelling. Peterson tries to present himself as an intellectual force to be reckoned with. I remember reading the late Thomas Szasz, another dissident in the helping professions and another powerful intellectual who wrote the book Ideology and Insanity some decades ago, whose fatal flaw was rooted in the author’s association with the Church of Scientology. I can’t help but seeing parallels here. I have no general explanation for it.

Neither book is a waste of your money. Ideology and 12 Rules For Life are both compelling reading and were hard for me to put down. Both books will change you in some way. Ideology was considered a game-changer for the practice of psychiatry back in the 1970s. It is largely the reason psychiatry has moved from being mostly a “talking cure” to being more biologically-based and science-based. But also in both cases, you can only trust their intellectual prowess so far. For this article, we will focus on Peterson’s 12 Rules.

Peterson’s account of the genesis of his book appear to be from a much briefer and  skeletal version of his 12 rules, contributed to an online wiki called Quora. His rules became popular, so he fleshed out his ideas for his book.

The most  compelling reading of all have to do with those topics that are central to his profession. He discusses child-rearing in ways that are so down-to-earth and with such conviction that it is difficult to argue with his ideas. He does the same for his discussion of marriage, and of of the complex needs and tendencies of those seeking counselling. He seems like a Rock of Gibraltar here. Utterly clear and well-written. The book is hard to put down at this point.

For some of his rules, he deviates into discussions of the Bible. He takes on the same authoritative tone of various Biblical stories, but in my reading of it (being a churchgoer), they are clearly his views, not views sanctioned by general scholarship, or by the Church. His Biblical interpretations and exegeses are taken to be his own, and supportive of his rules. In his circle of intellectualism, his grasp of the Bible extends just outside the center of his intellect. The Bible is just one of his tools used in support of the rules. Other writings used this way are the writings of philosophers such as Nietzsche. But one senses that the association between philosophers like Nietzche, Dostoyevsky and his rules are a little too neat and tidy.

Jordan Peterson Kek Boys and Pepe the Frog - YouTube
Jordan Peterson, leader of Kekistan (which only makes sense if you follow right-wing internet memes), addresses the misguided youth of today on their turf. The tweet is located here. “Don’t stay in the underworld” refers to Dostoyevsky’s “Notes from the Underground” which he refers to in his 12 Rules. “Seek your 4chan” — 4chan is a psychologically toxic, un-managed chat site which is rife with hate content, doxxing, shaming and cyber-bullying. Ironic that an academic would be advocating for 4chan. For the record, this is actually Peterson’s face pasted on top of actor Steve Buscemi’s face. I have to admit, the ‘shop job is quite convincing and seamless.

He also cites dissident political writers such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Soviet citizen who suffered the worst of the Gulags and lived to write three hefty books on the experience. This is where things go a little off the rails. While I have long ago given away my copy of the 3-volume Gulag Archipelago, Peterson has used this as an excuse to indulge in the Western intellecutal laziness of conflating communism with a totalitarian dictatorship, the latter of which was the case for the former Soviet Union, which was never close to being a Marxist utopia (indeed, Stalin banned the reading of Karl Marx). This is where Peterson deviates the most from his rules, and where his pronouncements on the evils of Stalinism deviated the most from any semblance the book’s original themes.

It is also where Peterson would find himself the most at odds with scholars such as MIT’s Dr. Richard Wolff, who actually make their living specializing in studying the history and theory of Marxism. This is where Peterson is the most out of his intellectual depth, showing his passive devotion to standard cold war tropes. The only difference these days is, that most socialist voices in our culture have been silenced in recent decades, reducing this to a mostly one-sided debate. This is why in real life, Dr. Peterson can rest on his laurels by challenging “anyone” to a debate about socialism, since he is confident of the success capitalist culture has had in silencing alternative voices, so that no one of any rhetorical skill will take him on. For the record, Dr. Wolff has accepted his challenge, which Peterson has never answered to.

"Pepe Jordan Peterson and screaming Liberal Tears MAGA ...
While we are conflating, Peterson’s support for Pepe has resulted in his likeness being “conflated” with Pepe on various merch, such as bookbags, T-shirts, slacks, aprons and dresses.

Conflating communism with totalitarianism is one thing. Conflating capitalism with freedom is another. Freedom doesn’t come from Capital, it comes from a Bill of Rights, and from laws that protect us. Thus, the tropes of Communism=Totalitarianism and Capitalism=Freedom get aired out here, and it is hard to take since one of his rules tells us to avoid ideology. He fails to see that Capitalism is an ideology just like Communism. He seems hypocritical if he is in jingoistic support of Capitalism while making “avoid ideology” one of his rules. We as a society are so awash in pro-capitalist tropes, that the world doesn’t really need yet another mindless screed against communism, which adds nothing new to the mostly one-sided “debate” about it that exists in our culture.

I would like to state that I am against ideologies also. In politics as in real life, ideologies tend to take a brilliant idea and proceed to completely eviscerate it of all life and meaning. The problem mostly is in the need to enforce ideology. If the ideology was “love”, then we have to love, “or else”. There. I just made love into ideology and ruined it, just like that. Not hard to do. I wouldn’t want to live in that world any more than if the ideology was about something more conventional, like economic systems.

Peterson could have made his point much clearer had he chosen a more neutral ideology. Young adults go through a period of their maturation where they espose many ideologies, and most of these adults are not ideological in a political way. The minute you get it into your head that “All X are Y” or “All X should be Y”, or “All X should do Y”, you are raising an idea or a collection of opinions you once had to a general ideology.  Young adults need to be aware that the world is infinitely more complicated than their ideologies and hard rules, and yes, ideology should be the least important concept in forming a world view. And this, dare I say it, includes the ideology of capitalism.

Natalie Wynn, who has a vlog on YouTube called Contrapoints, has read and viewed enough Jordan Peterson to say something about the structure of his debate style. Peterson would begin by saying something that is uncontroversial and factual (there are biological differences between men and women, for example), then at the same time, imply something controversial (such as women are under-represented in government). So, what is the response? Either you fall into the trap of arguing against biological differences, or you can guess at what he is implying, where he now has the opportunity of accusing you of mis-representing him. His famous lobster argument seems to be used as a similar trojan to justify any form of authority and authoritarianism, no matter how unjust. But to call him on it invites interpretation, and you will be guaranteed that it will never be the right one, since he never truly states his position on authoritarianism.

Peterson’s book on 12 Rules appears to use solid science and psychology as a Trojan horse to push right wing political views and tropes. Be careful what you get out of it. Take his politics, religion and philosophy with a grain of salt.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A review

I listened to the audiobook.

Mark Manson, a dating advice and travel blogger, wrote a book in 2016 entitled, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The book reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list in early 2017. It remained on the bestseller list for more than 4 years. I just checked the list for the “Advice and How-to” category, and it is still at #4. It is no longer charting as a mass-market or nonfiction book, if it ever had. His latest book is a biography of actor Will Smith, entitled Will.

As suggested in the title, it is full of expletives and the f-word. It is also full of stark bromides that are the antitdote to today’s illusion that everyone is a self-actualized person. The life lesson to be delivered in this book is that, part of the problem with success, is that it only is achievable when we no longer aim for it. Once we abandon questions like “am I happy?”, we are far closer to achieving happiness.

You know you were expecting memes based on this.

In its kind of casual, punchy style, there were problems I had in the theoretical consistency with the book. It turns questions on how to set happiness as a goal into questions of “how much of a certain kind of drudgery will I be willing to endure in order to say that I still feel contented?” The question is asked this way, because, to become good at anything, requires a certain kind of drudgery, whether it is practicing an instrument or to practice writing to become good at one or both of them. And one person’s “drudgery” is another person’s “fun”. You need to figure out which you find to be the most fun. And where some of us may excel in a small number of areas, we don’t excel in all areas over the course of our lives, generally.

Did the book inspired the memes or did the memes inspire the book? Turns out these memes originated  in 2010, before the book was published, according to the website “Know Your Meme”.

I like this thinking, but then he rails against “positive thinking” movements without reminding the reader that in order to put up with the drudgery in pursuit of a goal, one has to remain optimistic and positive. You also need to be surrounded by supportive and caring people. None of this is mentioned. He seems to write as if the pursuit of life’s goals were entirely solitary. That is normally a recipe for failure. What I think he is really against is the most recent trend in trying to tell our children that they are all champions, and handing out trophies to everyone, and so on, leading the kids to feel entitled as adults. That is valid, but he treats it as though it was the only application of positive thinking in existence. Having a shadow in a headlock, he thinks he has won the argument. But the obvious truth is that without positive thinking, you can’t get psyched up, and you can’t become motivated, and your tolerance for the drudgery he speaks of will quickly evaporate.

This meme has become embedded in Reddit macros and Facebook groups.

The book really states its case in the first 2-3 chapters, then it delves into biography, autobiography, and anecdotes. The anecdotes were interesting, but I felt that they caused me to lose focus on the main messages of the book, and quite frankly, it didn’t seem to be worthwhile reading at all, so I skipped past all of it to the last chapter. I think it was in the spirit of the book, and the author would have approved. He has my money, so I am sure he doesn’t give a f*ck. If you would like to hear from a blogger who has actually bothered to read all of it (with the emotional scars to prove it), you can click here.

This picture originally had no meme. FTFY!!! Make your own meme at www.kapwing.com

When Manson coins the phrase “not giving a fuck”, he really means that we should pick and choose what we care about, and not get concerned over side issues that only end up being distracting. But those little things can be big, also. Negative things can happen to us that are not our fault, and he acknowledges that we are still responsible for our actions and decisions that need to be done or made as a consequence.

While he lacks depth in his writing, his book is still useful as a compendium of tips and tricks for a more rewarding life. Don’t look for an organized system on how to live here. His ideas are never fleshed out enough for that. Maybe he just didn’t give a f*ck.

Faking the News By Storm

Andrew Anglin

When a far right website called The Daily Stormer (named after Der Stürmer, said to be Adolf Hitler’s favourite magazine) gained publicity by offending readers, and before they were forced into obscurity after GoDaddy and Google, and even Russian web providers refused to register their domain, I gained access to their style guide (since it, along with a link, came up briefly in the mainstream news). I had no intention of writing for these people, but what I found in that document was a frank account of their thinking behind their practice of knowingly publishing racist and misogynist material.

To think this is OK, for one thing, the writer should be OK with the fact that they are writing for a group of unapologetic neo-Nazi white supremacists. The upshot is that they are quite honest about the fact that you (the first-time reader) won’t necessarily give them a positive reaction. What they are after is that while they made you angry, your subconscious accepts that information uncritically, according to The Daily Stormer understanding of human psychology. So, with enough unrelenting repetition of the same tropes, your mind will some day accept it. The Nazis understood the art of propaganda quite well, and it worked out quite successfully for their regime back in the 1930s. Anglin’s blog doesn’t seem all that different, nor is their effect any less calculated. As writer Luke O’Brien from The Atlantic wrote in the December 2017 issue, the site contained “non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism”, referring to their tendency to appear to be joking about committing hate crimes on individuals, except that they were not joking. The appearance of joking, according to The Daily Stormer style manual, was intended to hook the new reader into reading more from their website.

The content manager of the site was a young man named Andrew Anglin (who by now would be 36 years old). Not much was known about him after 2017. Described in most reliable accounts as growing up as a troubled and confused teenager, he developed his world view by travelling to the Philippines and various countries in Europe. He was always very much a part of the right-wing online world, honing his opinions on 4Chan, and setting up a series of blogs over the years on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from conspiracy theories to survivalism, where he fancied himself as akin to Commander Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now: living alone in the Philippine rainforest and far from villages, but having nearly infinite power over the villagers. It was an obsessive romanticism which forced him to say that life in a South Asian jungle wasn’t for him, blaming his difficulties on the villagers.

It appeared for a while, after Anglin was denied his registry of The Daily Stormer that he disappeared into obscurity. And it was pretty effective obscurity too: many people including police and the media, were unable to locate him, though it was widely belived that he was somewhere in the American midwest at the time.

During the time he was active, it was likely that his screeds were being copied and spread by Russian hackers to Facebook and Twitter and other social media. It did not seem likely that he received any attribution for his articles, since there didn’t seem to be a big increase in traffic to his site caused by this. The Russian Government must have known that an American living in Russia had registered a website dealing in spreading pro-Nazi hate while lionizing Tump and Putin. However, it is not clear that he benefitted financially or drew hits to his site in any discernable number, and after he had his application to register his site rejected by the Russian government (and nearly everyone else), he did not seem to wind up any richer for his efforts. He was just used as a cog in the Russian disinformation apparatus, then the minute American media shone a light on him, he was thrown away  like a broken toy.

A look at the Internet as of this writing shows that The Daily Stormer is back up, with nearly all the articles bylined by Anglin, with the site registered with the Russian registrar r01.su, under an SU top level domain (TLD)  (meaning the country code appearing at the end of his server URL is actually the Soviet Union, instead of Russia, which would have been RU). It is likely he is still living in the United States, since there doesn’t appear to be a requirement that he needs to have business dealings or residency in Russia to have a Russian TLD.

What?! Free joints but no munchies!? F**k the government!

An article in the New York Times discussed about the move in Washington State to offer free Covid vaccine injections from various marijuana dispensaries in a so-called “Joints for jabs” program. Along with that, they would offer free joints, but stopped short of offering “edibles”. The Times article is not clear on this last part — they probably mean edible cannabis-infused products. They could have also meant Doritos or pizza, the standard go-to foods when a stoner gets the munchies. Not to be confused with cannabis-infused pizza, which would make things worse.